Cheap Trick perform Sgt. Peppers, live at the Hilton Hotel in Ls Vegas
I have been a Cheap Trick fan since buying the debut record when it was first released and loving their mix of hard guitar rock and wonderfully sung pop. When I had a chance to see them at the time, that cinched the deal, as they were among the best live acts of all time, with Rick Nielsen being one of the most crazed guitar men alive – as frantic (in a different way) as AC/DC's Angus Young when he appeared on the scene a few years later.
So, we thought that this show sounded like a strong concept and were looking forward to CT rockin’ up the classic Beatles’ album.
Unfortunately, a good portion of the show consisted of people other than Cheap Trick. Opening with an anonymous band doing a medley of assorted Beatles songs backed with an orchestra and occasionally singers such as Joan Osborne and some guy from the band Gomez, the evening started as an odd variety show.
When CT appeared, though, the energy level soared and the crowd jumped to the feet. Of course, the opening act is not supposed to outshine the headliner, but after paying for a Cheap Trick show, we were a little let down by having to sit through a half hour or more of people that we didn’t know or care about. CT were amazing, as always, and their portions shined. The guitarist from the opening sequence played with them so that Robin didn’t need to play throughout and they had a keyboard player as well as the orchestra. Personally, I would have preferred to see the Trick strip down and rock out these numbers a bit more, but that's me. Even Rick’s fantastic lead playing was so low in the mix that everyone had to strain to hear him.
During CT’s segment, they continued to bring out other guests (including, bizarrely – but most likely because they had just toured together – Def Leppard’s lead singer for a couple of songs) and when they would leave the stage, the proceedings would deflate significantly.
The Sgt Pepper’s album was augmented by a handful of extra Beatles songs but everyone we know (which included friends who came across country to see the show) would have loved to have seen the band rock through Sgt. Peppers and then do a set of their own.
Don’t get me wrong, the night was fun, the group did great justice to the songs (as we knew that they would) and there were some rockin’ guitar moments, but many of us wish that this had been a wilder Cheap Trick rock’n’roll show and less a variety show.